2017: The Discovery
At the end of 2016, I found a new ND, in southern VT, who had studied the genetic side of things. She created a finely tuned, specific prescription of supplements based on my own genetics. This makes up for any quirky gene variants that may be preventing proper detoxification and/or methylation. With this avenue of attack — I did see further improvements, but not the leaps and bounds that were expected. Because of this, my doctor asked, “Is there any chance that you’ve been exposed to mold?” That turned out to be the million-dollar question. If only one doctor, of the multitudes I’d seen, had asked me that decades ago! In hindsight, I can now see that I was living in a pattern of relapsing and remitting ME/CFS-like symptoms since childhood… and it may have been triggered by mold and mycotoxins all along.
As soon as my new ND asked about mold, a light bulb went off. My husband, David, and I looked at each other, having a WOW moment. This was something we’d been reading about for the past year or more. We were familiar with Joey Tuan’s story. Erik Johnson’s story, Lisa Petrison’s story, and more recently, Julie Rehmeyer’s story, as told in her book, “Through the Shadowlands”.
We’d been fascinated. In fact, we had even discussed trying to do a “mold sabbatical” in the Southwest, as a random test, “just in case”. We’d been wondering about the possibilities of mold in our home for quite some time, but whatever minor issues we’d had were fixed as soon as we discovered them. Because we couldn’t see or smell anything, it didn’t seem like it would be possible to have a problem of a magnitude that might harm us. Boy, were we WRONG!
About a year after getting married, we had bought a house (which was only 10 years old at the time), while I was in the midst of the initial pneumonia-like onset. Then I never got better. I really hadn’t pondered that it seemed to coincide with my illness. After all, I’d had a lifetime of bizarre maladies over the years. Nothing would have led me to think that they might ALL be connected… until now.
Preparing to finally start a long overdue, master bathroom renovation in mid-February — we had spent a week relocating from the master suite to the guest room. Little did we know: we were unwittingly, stirring up and inhaling vast quantities of contaminated dust, further compromising ourselves. David had ripped out the vanity and was getting ready to demolish the old flooring. When he removed the baseboard behind the toilet he unleashed the mother lode of Toxic Black Mold (Stachybotrys) that had been residing there. It was a surprisingly small amount, growing unseen and undetectable in the dark crevice between the baseboard and the tasty surface of the drywall – stealthily wicking sewer water to feed on, up one tiny grout line. Apparently, the toilet had been leaking slowly since the house was built, but it had been so tightly sealed to the floor that there were never any signs of water.
With no respiratory protection, David was instantly overwhelmed by the exposure. He staggered out to the living room where I had been resting, trying to read. Suddenly I’d felt awful for no apparent reason. In fact, I had been sitting there puzzling why the downturn – I hadn’t even been doing anything, but my eyes were struggling to focus and follow the lines on the page. David stumbled and was slurring his words as he spoke to me, trying to explain what he had uncovered. He was pale, shaky, and slow; off balance, and very clearly affected by what he’d gotten a face full of. It was frightening to watch. It was a nightmare image really, seeing him as sick as I was in just one heartbeat.
Instinctively we knew it was bad. Really bad. Together we mobilized as best we could and sealed off the master bedroom suite with plastic. It was, in hindsight, fairly ineffective given the real scope of the problem. Then we started researching and trying to figure out what to do next. It sure seemed like we might, indeed, be dealing with the dreaded Stachybotrys chartarum – which produces toxins called trichothecenes, and go figure…. they suppress the immune system.
Thankfully when all this happened – due to our ND’s previous recommendation, we already had an appointment scheduled with a Shoemaker mold doctor for the upcoming week. (For once there was actually a local specialist!) She did all the appropriate tests, confirmed the diagnosis of toxic mold poisoning, and prescribed CSM for both of us. Immediately, we set up an appointment with one of the environmental test guys she had recommended. He came out right away and got us started with what would be the first of many return trips for testing the house. (ERMI, air samples, etc.)